The Psychological Record

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 255–260 | Cite as

Quantifying the Empirical Growth of Relational Frame Theory Research: a Cautionary Note

  • Simon Dymond
  • Richard May
Theoretical Article


Relational frame theory (RFT) is a modern, contextual behavioral theory of human language and cognition. A recent article by O’Connor, Farrell, Munnelly, and McHugh (2017) provided an updated citation analysis of data-based and nondata-based articles citing RFT-related terms as a proxy for the influence RFT has had on the scientific literature. Here, we evaluate the claims made by O’Connor et al. and suggest that caution should be exercised when interpreting some of their findings. Progress has, in many ways, clearly been made, but we argue that the growth in RFT outputs is more nuanced than at first appears.


Relational frame theory Citation analysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Experimental Psychopathology Lab, Department of PsychologySwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyReykjavík UniversityReykjavíkIceland
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of South WalesPontypriddUK

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